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Missouri Department of Transportation

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Pendleton Site (23ML53)

using backhoe to remove the plowzoneThe Pendleton Site was originally identified in 1965 on a stream terrace north of Panther Creek in Miller County.  In 2002, MoDOT archaeologists determined that the Pendleton Site was eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places after a Phase I survey for a proposed bridge replacement project and the Phase II testing of the site.  During the Phase II testing, it was determined that the site was occupied during two different prehistoric time-periods.  Based on the stone tools recovered during the Phase I survey, the upper component dating to the Late Archaic period is buried approximately 25 cm below ground surface.  The lower component of unknown age was identified at approximately 110 cm below the surface.

In the summer of 2002, the Missouri Department of Transportation conducted a Phase III data recovery excavation of the portion of the site that fell within the project area.  Archaeologists believed that features and/or activity areas might be present that could lead to further understanding of the Late Archaic culture in this part of Missouri.   Research topics guiding the data recovery included use and organization of space, chronology of the site based on stone tools and radiocarbon dates of any features found, and possible settlement and/or subsistence practices as defined by carbonized plant remains and animal evidence.
using backhoe to remove the plowzone
Using a backhoe to remove the plowzone, the site was divided into two-meter square units, creating a large-scale excavation grid.  Due to the safe access to the site and the nature of the deposits, MoDOT archaeologists decided to allow the public, including many students, to aid in the systematic excavation of the upper component.  Because the deeper component was buried approximately 1 meter below ground surface, the backhoe was used to remove soil, making very thin cuts to ensure that archaeologists didn’t miss any features or artifacts.  Diagnostic tools were mapped using a transit.  Features such as hearths and trash pits were identified and excavated separately.

When work at the site was complete, dozens of stone tools and thousands of flakes had been found.  Ten features were identified and excavated.  Radiocarbon samples were collected from three features and submitted for testing.  Dates from two of the features, both bell-shaped pits, came back with a date range of 2880 B.C. to 2580 B.C. (1 Sigma calibrated results), placing the features solidly in the Late Archaic period.  Stone tools found throughout the site also date to this time.  The third feature, a shallow basin, was dated in the range of 170 B.C. to 40 B.C. (1 Sigma calibrated results), which places it within the Middle Woodland period.  No pottery was recovered from either the feature or the site and none of the stone tools are typical of the Middle Woodland period.  No radiocarbon samples were available from the lower component of the site.
recovered projectile points
The Pendleton site is a multi-component habitation site.  The upper component had features dated to the Late Archaic and Middle Woodland periods. The lower component is undated. 

A technical report, Data Recovery Excavations at the Pendleton Site (23ML53):  A Late Archaic “Smetley” Phase Site in the Ozark Highlands (Larry Grantham, 2012), that summarizes the results of the excavation has been completed.


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